At the age of 114 Winston reset his life; it was the only escape from the invading horrors. 114 years old was the longest he’d ever lived and for the first time in 999 resets, he had a goal. He woke up and hopped out of his childhood bed with a burning motivation.
“100 years until they attack,” he mumbled to himself as he tried to come up with a plan. He knew he could work himself into any number of high-level government positions; he’d done it plenty of times in past lives.
“WINSTON!!!” he heard his mother’s voice call out.
“I’M AWAKE!” he replied with a yell through the door. He had been so distracted with his thoughts that it took him a moment to realize something was off. The youth of his past lives tended to blur together. His mom often woke him up by yelling but in 998 lives she never yelled to wake him up on the first day of school. It was meant to be a special day and every other time she walked into his room to wake him gently.
“WINSTON!!!!!!” she called again and this time he heard a frightened edge in her voice; then, he heard a crash and the sound of shattering glass. Winston dashed out of his room and flew down the stairs. He heard a commotion in the kitchen and rushed in to find his mother frantically beating a pile of bones with a kitchen mallet.
“Noo…,” he whispered as he spotted several animated skeletons through the window; they were headed toward his house. “Mom! We gotta go!” he stopped her hand mid-swing and pulled her out of the kitchen. The pile of bones she was attacking began pulling itself back together the moment she stopped hitting it.
“Wintson, what’s happening!?” his mother asked as he led her out of the house. Dozens of walking skeletons wandered through the neighborhood crashing into houses.
“I don’t know,…” he admitted. He had no idea how the skeletons were there now; they weren’t supposed to attack for a hundred years yet. He glanced up at the sky as they ran. A black hole rained skeletons over the city and Winston realized they were definitely the same force he tried to escape from in the future.
“Winston!” his mom jerked back on his hand hard to get him to stop. He was so distracted by the hole in the sky that he didn’t notice the tall white-horned woman that appeared in front of them. She was deathly pale and wore a long black dress. A pair of bone-white horns protruded out of her black hair.
“Hola, Muerte,” the woman smiled at Winston. As he looked her up and down he noticed they were surrounded by skeletons; but, they weren’t being attacked. He assumed she was the one responsible for them and a faint hope fluttered in his gut; maybe he could talk her out of it.
“Hello,” he replied as he stepped between the woman and his mother. “Are they yours?” he gestured to the skeletons now standing at attention around them.
“They are,” she nodded.
“Why are you doing this?” Winston asked. “We haven’t done anything to you; I don’t even know who you are.” The horned woman sighed.
“Obviously,” she mumbled to herself. Then, she spoke up. “My name is Ballisea, and, I don’t need a reason.”
“How did you follow me?” Winston asked. His only plan at the moment was to keep her talking; he hoped a better plan formed soon.
“Follow you?” she asked. Winston nodded.
“From the future. You attacked 100 years in the future, so I came back to this time. How are you here?” She replied with soft, amused laughter. Winston’s mother whispered a question in his ear, but he couldn’t take the time to explain what he meant. He squeezed her hand to reassure her, then Ballisea spoke.
“I didn’t follow you, silly. Time flows around me. Even if you rewound time to the age of dinosaurs, I’d still be here.”
“I can do that?!” Winston asked in surprise. Ballisea nodded.
“Not slumbering as you are now, but an awakened Muerte can manipulate time quite easily. Lucky for you, I’m in a pleasant mood today,” Ballisea said. A black portal opened next to Winston.
“This Earth is mine now, but you may go,” she said. Winston knew better than to question his good fortune. He quickly stepped toward the portal, but his mom’s hand stopped him.
“Winston!” She shrieked again; he turned to see her being held back by skeletons.
“The Zero stays,” Ballisea said.
“I’m not leaving my mom!” Winston replied.
“Oh wow…,” Ballisea said with a slightly awed tone. “You really love her, don’t you?” Winston’s hopeful flutters grew in intensity as he nodded at Ballisea.
“More than anyone in the world,” he replied.
“You know, I have a son too,” she said. “I wish he loved me half as much as you love your mom. She must be a wonderful woman,” Ballisea smiled warmly at Winston. His hopes evaporated when the black portal disappeared and the skeletons advanced on him. As he felt bony hands grasp him, the last thing he heard was Ballisea muttering.
“If only I could get my son to roll over and die for me too.”